Great strategy - focus on implementation on coherence across objectives

Uimhir Thagarta Uathúil: 
Anna Lalor
Líon na ndoiciméad faoi cheangal: 
Anna Lalor


3. Strategy Challenges

By way of introduct to my whole submission (so not soley related to section 3):

  • I am very supportive of the strategy and the concepts and measures discussed and set out within it;
  • I am concerned, given my experience with the recent DART+ West consultations with how this will be implemented in practice, in particular balancing the various aspects of public transport, the road user hierarchy, the sense of place for the various communities affected, and the nature of engagement with the community;
  • I have found that the preferred options set out in the DART+ West consultation (despite NTA involvement) are completely misaligned with the current draft strategy and previous strategies and recommendations in all but the achivement of public transport infrastructure. With the closure of Ashtown level crossing, pedestrians and cyclists would be  (under the current proposals) reliant on accessing key amenities via a secluded (not overlooked) underbridge/tunnel and road which conflicts with the concepts of permiability, incentivising increased walking/cycling (including a GDA cycle network secondary route), access for disabled people, disincentivising car usage, and the effect on the overall sense of place through the nature of infrastructure design;
  • There seems to be insufficient involvement/experitise  from an urban design perspective in the project team, while engagement with affected communities could be significantly improved, including greater engagement outside of official consultations to work collaboratively on potential solutions;
  • Concerns raised in the first consultation appear to have been largely ignored (with minor tweaks that did not address key concerns) and there appears to be insufficient exploration of alternative options beyond the initial preferred options.  At times it seemed that other options were put in for the sole purpose of increasing the attractiveness of the preferred option.  There has been a significant breakdown in trust with the communities along the railway line as a result of the consultations, when one would have thought the objective of the consultations was the opposite;
  • My focus in my reponse is on the inconsistencies within the plan and the preferred option set out for Ashtown level crossing. 

I have attached, for your info my submission in relation to DART+ West should you wish to view it for further information, including suggestions for alternative solutions.

I recognise the challenge of preparing such a strategy in the context of the uncertainty created by Covid-19.

I note the comment in relation to delivery of transport schemes:

Extensive engagement with stakeholders, local communities and the wider public is essential to properly inform the public about major transport changes and scheme proposals, and in order to highlight and reinforce the benefits of transport schemes. That engagement also provides an opportunity to work with those parties to achieve better overall outcomes and to allay unnecessary concerns. A central tenet of the delivery of the proposals in this Transport Strategy will be a process of dialogue and consultation with the relevant parties in the case of each proposal, affording opportunity for more collaborative development of balanced solutions.

I believe that this is a very important observation, and would very much like to see it implemented with immediate effect.  My most recent experience in relation to infrastructure proposals relates to DART+ West and the two consultations that have been completed to date. I am very supportive of the upgrade to the Maynooth railway line, but have significant concerns over the nature and quality of engagement with local communities. Large volumes of information have been provided, yet public virtual consultation meetings have focused on the infrastructure elements and have not highlighted elements of most significance to local communities. In addition, significant issues raised by the community in relation to the plan were not addressed.  This relates mainly to concerns over the safety of a proposed vehicle, pedestrian and cycle underbridge due to the closing of Ashtown level crossing , which would be very isolated and not overlooked, and therefore unsafe. In my response to consultation no. 2 I suggested greater engagement with those most affected by the changes necessary to complete the upgrade (and related level crossing upgrades), but there has been no engagement since, with the progression of financing for the project recently announced.


4. Policy Review

With a focus again on the preferred option in both the first and second consultations on DART+ West relating to the closure of Ashtown level crossing and its replacement with an isolated underbridge/tunnel for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists (the 2nd consultation indicated that lifts and the railway footbridge would be available for general use during the hours that the railway was operational), I believe the following policy objectives are of note.  I note that access to the Navan Road QBC, the Pheonix Park, many childcare facilities and schools, and sporting amenities are located on the opposite side of the railway for residents in Rathborne, most of whom live in apartments so access to the park and sporting amenities is all the more important. In addition, Ashtown Road provides a secondary route for the GDA cycle network, which would also be diverted through this alternative route.

National planning framework:

NPO 27: Ensure the integration of safe and convenient alternatives to the car into the design of our communities, by prioritising walking and cycling accessibility to both existing and proposed developments, and integrating physical activity facilities for all ages.

Regional spatial and economic strategy:

RPO 5.3: Future development in the Dublin Metropolitan Area shall be planned and designed in a manner that facilitates sustainable travel patterns, with a particular focus on increasing the share of active modes (walking and cycling) and public transport use and creating a safe attractive street environment for pedestrians and cyclists; and

RPO 5.8: Support the promotion and development of greenway infrastructure and facilities in the Dublin metropolitan area and to support the expansion and connections between key strategic cycle routes and greenways as set out in the NTA Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan.

5. Strategy Aim and Objectives

Again with reference to the proposed replacement of pedestrian and cycle access over the railway due to the closure of Ashtown level crossing under DART+ West, I believe it conflicts with many of the objectives of the Transport Strategy for GDA in that it disincentivises walking and cycling (due to safety concerns) and increases incentives to drive, reduces connectivity to the community at the other side of the railway tracks and the many amenities there and makes access to the railway for those with disabilities, particular in the event that lifts are out of order (a 320 metre trip with an 8 metre incline).  Based on the 2016 census, about 20% of the community cross the level crossing every morning as pedestrians or cyclists.

An Enhanced Natural and Built Environment

To create a better environment and meet our environmental obligations by transitioning to a clean, low emission transport system, reducing car dependency, and increasing walking, cycling and public transport use.

Connected Communities and Better Quality of Life

To enhance the health and quality of life of our society by improving connectivity between people and places, delivering safe and integrated transport options, and increasing opportunities for walking and cycling.

An Inclusive Transport System

To deliver a high quality, equitable and accessible transport system, which caters for the needs of all members of society.

8. Planning for Sustainable Transport

Again in relation to the preferred option for the closure of the level crossing at Ashtown under DART+ West, I have found that the proposals (replacement of pedestrian and cycle access with an isolated underbridge) are not consistent with the strategy outlined by NTA in the current draft, but also previous recommendations.  In particular, the current proposals lead to impermiablity (through fears for safety via the proposed route) in the community, and it appears there may be insufficent urban design experience or participation in the DART+ West project team. The proposals also do not seem to adhere to the road user hierarchy. The proposed pedestrian bridge is also not in keeping with the local 'place' being a large concrete structure, with alternatives (such as cable stay bridges) potentially offering more attractive and sustainable alternatives that could also include pedestrian/cycle and wheelchair access.


8.7 Filtered Permeability

"Facilitating movement by walking and cycling is a critical element in neighbourhood planning. In particular, the concept of filtered permeability, whereby pedestrians and cyclists can travel through areas and motorised traffic cannot, is important in conferring an advantage on these modes making them safer and more attractive than the car for short trips to local services. …"

8.9 Urban Design and Placemaking

"Placemaking is the process of creating quality places that people want to live, work, invest and spend time in. It is based on a simple principle; that if you plan for people and places, you get people and places.  …

Better street design in urban areas, including the presence of active street frontages, will encourage more people to choose to walk, cycle or use public transport by making the overall experience safer, more accessible and attractive. It will lower traffic speeds, reduce unnecessary car use and create a built environment that responds more sympathetically to the distinctive natures of the individual communities and places. …

With this in mind, the NTA to date has incorporated high-quality urban design and placemaking improvements into the design of major transport schemes. This policy will continue as part of the implementation of the Transport Strategy."

Measure PLAN12 – Urban Design in MajorInfrastructure Projects

The NTA will incorporate a high standard of urban design and placemaking into the planning and design of all major public transport infrastructure schemes, and will consider how greater biodiversity could be fostered.

Measure PLAN13 – Urban Design in Walking and Cycling Projects

In the design, planning and prioritisation of walking and cycling schemes, the NTA and the local authorities will ensure the incorporation of urban design and placemaking considerations.

MEASURE PLAN16 – The Road User Hierarchy (places pedestrians and cyclists above public transport)

The NTA, in the decision-making process around the design, planning and funding of transport schemes in the GDA, will be guided by the priority afforded to each mode in the Road User Hierarchy as set out in the Transport Strategy.

9. Integration and Inclusion

Again in relation to the proposed pedestrian/cycle alternatives relating to the closure of Ashtown level crossing under DART+ West, I think the following from the draft strategy sums up the issue that we have experienced:

"In designing and planning transport infrastructure schemes, it can be tempting for agencies, stakeholders and the public to focus on the one primary objective of the scheme, without giving due attention to the myriad other aspects which need to be considered and the wider benefits which may accrue."

We have found that the focus has been on getting the rail infrastructure piece done with insufficent consideration of how to integrate it and balance it with the impact on local communities.  Everyone is in favour of the upgrade, but want it to implemented in a way that does not have a significant detrimental effect on the nearby communities.

This is elaborate upon below, in the document:

"Metropolitan and regional transport operates as a network. This network is only as strong as its weakest link and the ability of people to change seamlessly from one mode to another – walking to the bus; cycling to the train station; changing from one bus to another – is critical. The features of a well-integrated transport system include the physical environment of stops and stations; the length and quality of the walk between services; crossing points; travel information; fares integration; cycle parking; shelter; frequency and capacity of connecting services. ...

As such, the integration of all transport modes and wider transport considerations into the implementation of individual transport schemes is an important element."

In addition, I believe that the current preferred option for pedestrian and cycle access where Ashtown level crossing is closed in mis-aligned with the following measures:

Measure INT1 – Integration of all Modes in Transport Schemes

It is the intention of the NTA, in the design and planning of transport schemes, to ensure that the needs of all transport modes are considered, as appropriate, based on the objectives of the scheme and on the road user hierarchy

Measure INT14 – Walking and Cycling at Night

The NTA and local authorities will ensure that personal security and safety for those travelling at night by walking and cycling are carefully considered in the design process for new schemes and in retrofitting existing schemes where such issues arise

Measure INT15 – Accessible Infrastructure

During the period of the Transport Strategy, the NTA will ensure that public transport infrastructure, and facilities in the GDA are made accessible for all users.



10. Walking, Accessibility and Public Realm

I believe that the current preferred option for pedestrian and cycle access where Ashtown level crossing is closed in mis-aligned with the following measure:

Measure WALK8 – Persons with Disabilities Local authorities in the GDA and the NTA will take full account of people with disabilities and pedestrians with mobility impairments when delivering transport schemes which affect the pedestrian environment; and will implement improvements to existing facilities where appropriate and encourage the enforcement of the Road Traffic Laws in this regard.

11: Cycling and Personal Mobility Devices

I believe that the current preferred option for pedestrian and cycle access where Ashtown level crossing is closed in mis-aligned with the observation that "as the community of cyclists grows and its range broadens, different needs also emerge. As more women and girls cycle, for example, personal security needs may become more pronounced, in particular on off-road greenways" and the following measures (with one of the GDA cycle network secondary routes currently traversing Ahtown level crossing):

Measure CYC1 – GDA Cycle Network

It is the intention of the NTA and the local authorities to deliver a safe, comprehensive, attractive and legible cycle network in accordance with the updated Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network.

Measure CYC2 – Cycle Infrastructure Design

It is the intention of the NTA to ensure that cycle infrastructure in the GDA provides an appropriate quality of service to all users, through the implementation of the design guidance contained in the latest version of the National Cycle Manual.

17. Strategy Outcomes

Again I note that the preferred option for pedestrians and cyclists as an alternative to the closure of Ashtown level crossing under DART+ West is not aligned with the strategy as set out below, other than to increase access to public transport, but to the detriment of pedestrians and cyclists and with increased incentive to drive:

"How the Strategy Leads to More Connected Communities and Better Quality of Life

The reorientation of the transport network towards these modes, as set out in chapters 8, 10, 11 and 14 will ensure that people in the GDA will be provided with a walking and cycling environment which will greatly enhance their accessibility to services such as schools, health facilities, shops etc. at the neighbourhood and district level, promoting greater use of these modes."


Uimhir Thagarta Uathúil: 
Líon na ndoiciméad faoi cheangal: